By Anne Gibson

The Vail Unified School District (VUSD) has been top rated in Arizona for over a decade. How does the District continue year after year to be ranked among the best?

A combination of reasons point to Vail’s success. One reason is that VUSD has been operating under a voter approved maintenance and operations override since 1993. By Arizona Revised Statute school district’s may ask registered voters residing within the district for permission to increase its funding above the base level of that provided by the State of Arizona. Every five years the VUSD must seek reauthorization by the voters, or the tax is phased out along with the programs and staff it provides.
“Our schools are a cornerstone in the foundation of our wonderful community. The investment made by our community is a huge part of the success of our schools, which consistently rank among the best in Arizona. Proposition 487 is an opportunity to decide whether or not to continue an investment that has been in place for the past 28 years; an investment that provides additional funding for critical teaching positions across programs like art, music, P.E., and advanced courses while also help to keep class sized down,” said Vail School Superintendent John Carruth.

“A yes vote continues the current tax rate (no increase) and continues funding for over 126 teaching positions. Our teachers and staff work incredibly hard to create schools where parents can receive high quality educational experience for their children. We thank you for your investment. We take the responsibility you entrust to us very seriously and appreciate your consideration of Proposition 487,” Superintendent Carruth said

Without voter permission on the November 2021 ballot art, music, and PE programs along with the staff will be phased out. The loss of the 12.5% override funding would also affect the funding of academic programs, increase class size, and remove a 2.5% salary increase to teachers and non-administrative staff used in an attempt to keep pay scales competitive.
Arizona is ranked 48th state in per pupil funding. VUSD receives $7,430 per student in base funding from the State. This is $1,706 less per student than the State average without the override.With the override the figure increases by $906 to 8,336 per student.

Twelve percent of the current override is used for supplies and service and 88 percent for teacher and staff compensation. The current override funds 13 art teachers, 13.5 music teachers, 21 physical education teachers, 18 achievement teachers, nine teachers in the gifted program, 44 classroom teachers to help control class size, and 2.5% salary supplement for teachers and non-administrative staff. This will all be phase out over three years, if the override is not renewed.

“COVE is a group of volunteers from the Vail area comprised of parents, community members, and business leaders. This group of volunteers is responsible to share factual information about the importance of local overrides and bonds,” said Stacy Winstryg, chairman of Citizens of Vail for Education.

“The success of our local overrides and bonds helps ensure that the Vail School District has the funds they need to maintain the excellent education we have grown to expect for our students,” Mrs. Winstryg continued.

Sig and Stacy Winstryg are the parents of Luke a middle schooler, a daughter Zoey at Cienega High School, and a son Dallin who is an Empire High School graduate attending his first year in college in Provo, Utah.

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Anne Gibson